Found this at ABC News Online
Last Update: Tuesday, August 1, 2006. 8:00am (AEST).
Police investigate crop contamination
Police have set up a major incident room in Bowen in north Queensland to investigate the poisoning of fruit and vegetable crops worth up to $1 million.
Investigators believe chemicals used by a contractor were somehow contaminated, affecting more than 40 hectares of capsicum, beans and tomatoes on several farms.
The Tropical Public Health Unit has identified the chemical used in the poisoning of four Bowen farms.
The unit’s John Piispanen says the chemical is a commonly used household and farm herbicide. Mr Piispanen says it holds no significant risk for consumers. “We have identified a herbicide in the sample that was taken yesterday and that was indicative of glycophate (correct spelling is glyphosate – J.C-W),” he said. “People may recall it under one of its trade names because it’s sold under many now, but it’s Roundup.”
Sandra Baxendell from the Department of Primary Industries says staff are helping police with their enquiries. “We have used our senior scientific staff to provide additional information and we’re just providing the police with the information and the help that they request,” she said. Ms Baxendell says there will be a full examination.
“DPI [Department of Primary Industries] have extensive expertise in both the crops themselves and we also have scientists based here in Brisbane who have extensive knowledge of herbicides and pesticides,” she said.
From my recent blog:
Better ways to poison soil
A super strength herbicide is on the market…now you can buy glyphosate with 490 grammes per litre of glyphosate instead of the 360 g/L strength… “great for those hard to kill weeds” … says the advert.
Thanks to over reliance on this one herbicide by industrial farmers and gardeners weeds across the world have developed resistance to this herbicide.
Another response to weed resistance is to create genetically modified crops that contain glyphosate-resistance in every part of the plant, enabling crops to be doused with heavier doses of poison “needed” to kill the increasingly poison-resistant weeds they are creating.
Glyphosate manufacturers cling to the marketing ploy that this poison breaks down in soil, whereas the scientific evidence I have heard indicates that it remains active in soil for about forty days after application. Strong enough to harm seedlings and their roots. And strong enough to poison soil microorganisms, especially mycorrhizal fungi. Mycorrhizal fungi are essential for protecting plants from soil-borne diseases and help to nourish plants. Repetitive use of glyphosate literally poisons the soil and allows soil to degrade.
About eight or so years ago there was a panic introduction of a “biactive” formula of glyphosate. It contains a different spreading agent (spreaders enable the poison to cover weeds more effectively). The reason was the proof that the original spreading agent was lethal to amphibians, like frogs, at all stages of their lifecycle.
When a chemical is registered as being “safe” for use registration only covers the active ingredient – in this case glyphosate – not any other additives like spreaders. Unfortunately for the soil and general public there’s reason to believe that:
- glyphosate may cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (an unusual cancer) – and research to confirm this is underway in Scandinavia and the EC, and
- spreading agents can be more toxic to life than the active ingredient itself;
Still want to use gylphosate?
Then wear protective clothing as you would when handling any dangerous chemical.
Amphibians are becoming rare and species are becoming extinct as a result of climate change and pollution – like glyphosate. These are indicator species – if they’re happy and healthy the environment is healthy for people too…